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Letter from Florense Grimes, Franklin Tribune, 12-25-1918

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Florense Grimes
February 25, 1892 – July 17, 1968

Saumur, France, November 24, 1918

Dear Dad,

Well, dad, I’m going to open up and tell some of my experiences in the A.E.F. and the trip across Powder River. We have been given the privilege to do so. I think most of us appreciate it. I know I do. I can’t tell it all as I’m not a novelist or a newspaper man and I wouldn’t have anything to tell when I get back if I did. So here’s part of it.

We left Hoboken, N.Y., the 31st day of July and landed in Brest, France, the 12th of Aug. We left Hoboken with a convoy of nine transports and two cruisers. When we were about three days out we were met by six sub destroyers to take us to port. On the morning or the 11th about 8 o’clock a sub was sighted. It was rumored that it fired a torpedo at one of the transports. It came up near one of the destroyers and before it could submerge and get away the destroyer ran over it, dropped a depth bomb and the sub blew up. I was lucky enough to see it. There were several shots fired from the transports at what they took to be another one. About two o’clock in the afternoon of the same day several more subs were sighted. I didn’t happen to be on deck at the time so didn’t see any of them. I was down on the fourth deck below the water line when the shooting started and if the Atlantic goes dry I’ll always claim that some of the bombs that were fired that afternoon went thru the bottom of her.

We landed in Brest without a scratch. We were there about six days and moved to Reames, where we stayed about three weeks and then moved here to Camp Villibernier. We are about three miles from the town of Saumur, which is 120 miles west of St. Nazaire. Our camp is a good one compared to most of the camps I have seen. We have good barracks and lucky enough to have a hot shower bath. The camp is not large, as the men that are here are nearly all railroad men. The 31st Engineers were here about six weeks ahead of us and had started to build a railroad yard and shop. They were all railroad men so when we got here they went out on the road and we finished the shop. I went to work as engine watchman in the yard as soon as I got here. I had a chance to take exams to go firing on the road so that’s what I’m doing now. Our division is on the P. & O. between Saumur and Geviers and Saumur and St. Nazaire. There is some excitement to it with lots of hard work attached. It’s a good job to take up time and that’s what a fellow wants here now as all the talk is about going home. I son’t know when we will part for America but hope it will be tootsweet.

Sis said in her letter that now this thing is over you would feel better to know that we were all together. I can’t say anything about Henry as I haven’t heard from him since I got over here. As for me, I have ben congratulating myself on my good health for the last few days as there is a pen of fat geese out back of our kitchen and so far I haven’t found any bullet holes.

Well, Dad, I’m about out of wind. It’s nearly supper time and I need some sleep so I will call this the end. With love to all and A Merry Xmas.

Your son, Pvt. Florense T. Grimes, Co. B. 44th Reg. T. C., Amer. E. F.